Activism, BLM, Crime, Criminology, Top Stories

America’s Black Communities Are Suffering. Violent Protests Will Make the Suffering Worse

Protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin—an act that prosecutors describe as murder—have devolved into violence. Numerous small businesses have been destroyed, and at least one elderly shopper at a Target store was assaulted. A man has been shot dead.

This pattern of events is familiar because it has repeated itself numerous times over American history following acts of police brutality, especially in cases where, as with Floyd, the victim was black. First, large numbers of people protest peacefully, drawing attention to their cause and attracting national sympathy. Then, a smaller group turns violent, causing destruction in the community and sometimes harming innocent people. That smaller group sometimes includes people who exploit the chaos for their own ends. During the Baltimore riots of 2015, for instance, the looting of pharmacies led to opioids and other drugs flooding the market, likely feeding drug dependency, enriching gangs, and fueling more crime.

In the 1960s, thousands of Americans took part in non-violent protests in opposition to segregation. Their efforts helped lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act. But in the latter half of the decade, many protests became scenes of violence. In 1967 alone, there were 159 riots in major American cities.

Such riots often are cast as a form of righteous outrage, and progressives often are unwilling to denounce or even discourage them. Warren Gunnels, a senior staffer for Senator Bernie Sanders, seemed to downplay the events in Minneapolis, for instance, by describing growing wealth inequality in the US as the true form of “looting.” Such responses summon to mind the image of the rioters as underprivileged individuals punching up from their downtrodden place in society. But even to the extent one embraces that moral framework, their violence is counterproductive.

A recently published research article in the American Political Science Review examined the impact of different forms of protest in the 1960s on public opinion. Princeton University professor Omar Wasow, a veteran researcher in the sphere of race and politics, focused exclusively on black-led protests and how they were received by the public.

“The overarching question that led me to study 1960s protests was a puzzle I thought about a lot while growing up in New York, which might be summarized as how did we as a country shift from the victories of the civil rights era to the rise of ‘law and order’?” Wasow told me in an interview. “Both my parents had been activists in the Civil Rights Movement. For example, my father went to Mississippi to register voters as part of Freedom Summer. So, partly this was personal. Also, as I was growing up, I was trying to understand what had happened in the wake of those successes that left us with policies like the war on drugs and mass incarceration.”

His study found that nonviolent activism—like that practiced by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the American South—moved the public toward supporting civil rights, and even increased the vote share for Democratic presidential candidates in counties that were geographically proximate to protests.

This effect was particularly evident when nonviolent protests were met with violence, as was frequently the case with the SNCC. And it isn’t hard to imagine why: People feel sympathy toward innocent protestors being brutalized by racist mobs and authoritarian-seeming police officers.

The effect of violent protests, however, seemed to have the opposite effect. Indeed, Wasow believes that violent protests caused a shift among whites toward Republicans large enough to tip the 1968 presidential election to Richard Nixon, as scenes of violent protest shifted news coverage, elite discourse, and public opinion toward the theme of social control. “Members of Congress were deluged with ‘torrents of constituent mail’ in favor the 1968 Safe Streets bill,” Wasow writes, quoting the research of Yale professor Vesla Weaver. “Even liberal Democrats ‘felt compelled by public anxiety over crime and riots to vote for the bill.’ Polling data from August 1968 finds 81% of respondents agreed with the statement ‘Law and order has broken down in this country.’”

In the final analysis, Wasow believes, violent protests pushed white racial moderates from the Mid-west and Mid-Atlantic into a “law and order” coalition, and helped tip the presidency to the Republican Party.

SNCC members pray during a 1962 protest

Wasow concedes that the “transformative egalitarian” coalition created in the early 1960s had always been fragile, but that, in the absence of violent protests, it would likely have held together long enough to put Democrat Hubert Humphrey, lead author of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, into the presidency. In this alternative timeline, the Republican Party might not have become focused on the law-and-order campaigning and governing strategy that remains with us to this day, and which led, along the way, to the war on drugs and mass incarceration.

These consequences were actually foretold by some in the Civil Rights Movement, including the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is common on social media to see people quoting King’s statement that a riot is a “language of the unheard.” But in the same remarks from which this popular quote is drawn, King also stated that “riots are socially destructive and self-defeating.”

In February 1968, nine months before Richard Nixon’s election, King warned that increased rioting would lead to a “right-wing takeover.” He pointed to segregationist George Wallace’s presidential bid, saying, “Every time a riot develops, it helps George Wallace.”

“They’ll throw us into concentration camps,” he told supporters of the Poor People’s Campaign. “The Wallaces and [followers of the John Birch Society] will take over. The sick people and the fascists will be strengthened. They’ll cordon off the ghetto, and issue passes for us to get in and out. We cannot stand two more summers like last summer without leading inevitably to a rightwing takeover and a fascist state that will destroy the soul of the nation.”

After King’s assassination, his widow Coretta Scott King used her remarks at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church to implore his admirers to continue to act in accordance with his peaceful counsel. “Our concern now is that his work does not die. He gave his life for the poor of the world—the garbage workers of Memphis and the peasants of Vietnam. Nothing could hurt him more than that man could attempt no way to solve problems except through violence,” she said. “He gave his life in search of a more excellent way, a more effective way, a creative way rather than a destructive way. We intend to go on in search of that way, and I hope that you who loved and admired him would join us in fulfilling his dream.” In recent days, George Floyd’s girlfriend said something similar about how Floyd would have wanted his own mourners to act.

Corner of 7th & N Street NW in Washington, D.C., following 1968 riots

In the short term, violence can produce some highly visible benefits for victimized communities. It is very possible, for instance, that Chauvin would never have been criminally charged but not for the national attention focused on Minneapolis thanks to the violent protests. And the 2014 violence in Ferguson, Missouri led to police-training improvements and other policy reforms. But the long-term economic and social consequences of violence are almost invariably negative for the local community.

In 2005, researchers William Collins and Robert Margo examined the legacy of 1960s riots with a view to estimating the long-term consequences for neighborhoods where the riots occurred. They concluded that riots depressed the value of black-owned property between 1960 and 1970, with little rebound in the decade that followed. Riots were responsible for an estimated 10 percent loss in the total value of black-owned residential property in American urban areas, leading to an increased racial gap in property values.

I observed a case study firsthand during my visit to Baltimore in 2018, as part of a reporting project on a homicide wave the city was then suffering. Despite three years having passed since riots touched off by the killing of Freddie Gray in police custody, there was little evident progress made in areas impacted by the destruction. The city has continued to suffer from population loss. And many believe the riots indirectly fueled a surge in homicides in the years following, as police pulled back from proactively patrolling troubled communities.

A scene from the 2015 Baltimore riots

All in all, the evidence suggests that violent protests and rioting empower right-wing political forces, provide an opportunity for gangs to enrich themselves and exploit destabilized local populations, impoverish property owners, and harm long-term economic fortunes. And so it’s worth asking whether the well-intentioned progressives who are doing their best to cast the Minneapolis rioters in righteous terms are truly doing these underprivileged residents any favors. In 2018, a team of five researchers studied Baltimore’s violent protests and found that “moralizing” tweets—that is, tweets that cast the protests as a moral issue, helped predict acts of protest violence. In particular, “the hourly frequency of morally relevant tweets predicted the future counts of arrest during protests.” Which isn’t surprising: When we encourage and sanction violence, we get more of it. And if the violence isn’t benefitting the community, but is inflicting long-term harm, what is the point of encouraging it?

None of this is to say that we should respond to outrages such as Floyd’s killing with muted indifference. Nonviolent protest, media work, petitioning of government officials, and voter mobilization are all tools we can use to push back at injustice in a democratic society. Richmond, California, for example, is an example of a community in which civic activism and a get-out-the-vote campaign led to large-scale reforms of the police department that served to build community trust and reduce crime.

Many of the people doing the looting in Minneapolis are young. They’ve been cooped up for months without school or work, and they’ve been told they couldn’t even shake hands with their friends for fear of spreading disease. Many of us will remember what it’s like to be young, full of energy and anger, and caught up in occasional collective frenzies that felt, at the time, like they were accomplishing something. Not all violence can be avoided. But at the very least, those of us who are older and wiser can resist the urge to publicly signal that this is acceptable (or even praiseworthy) behavior.

A week from now, many of the privileged people signaling their approval for the rioters will have moved on to the next issue, even as many of the rioters, having been identified on video footage, are arrested. Worse, some may fall ill with cases of COVID-19 contracted during the fracas. Certainly, when November comes, Donald Trump and the Republican Party will be only too happy to have scenes of Minneapolis’ burning buildings and mayhem on heavy rotation. Violence played into the hands of the reactionary Right in 1968. And it may well do so again in 2020.


Zaid Jilani is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Twitter at @ZaidJilani.

Feature image: A building in Centennial Olympic Park burns during rioting and protests in Atlanta on May 29th, 2020. (Photo by John Amis/AFP) 


  1. More revisionist history to attempt to associate the civil rights movement with Democrats and progressivism. A larger percentage of Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in both houses than did Democrats.

    See above. George Wallace was a Democrat.

    The incident with Michael Brown was ruled as justifiable homicide by the Obama DOJ. Is the author really trying to make a point that a violent response to a justified police shooting had some positive consequences?

    TDS symptom #135: the patient implies Trump is happy about horrible incidents occurring in the country that are in no way his fault.

  2. And that sounds like even-handedism/both-siderism to me.

    It’s all posturing.

    Prior to this crap about “Trump is responsible”, I’d like to see:

    1. A white supremacist in police custody
    2. Some likage to Trump
    3. Some rational basis for this crap about “Trump is to blame”

    From Day 1 of Trump’s administration, there have been terrorist issues and hate crimes. And a huge number of them have been “false-flag operations”.

    So enough with this “Trump is to blame” crap. This is Quillette, not Daily Kos or TalkingPointsMemo.

  3. It all makes sense now!

    White supremacists were absolutely outraged that a white police officer killed an unarmed black man. In fact, they were so angry that they invited all their black friends to the riots with them! How nice!

  4. As near as I can tell, there are two obvious truths contained in this article. The first is succinctly stated in the title. The second can be summed up as “white people are sympathetic to real injustice but not looting and riots.” The rest of the words just represent a series of ideological distortions.

    I won’t continue beating the horses that other commenters have flogged already but a few others stood out:

    In the short term, violence can produce some highly visible benefits for victimized communities.

    Victimized how, exactly? 90% of black murders are committed by blacks and everyone knows this.

    It is very possible, for instance, that Chauvin would never have been criminally charged but not for the national attention focused on Minneapolis thanks to the violent protests.

    It’s 100% likely Chauvin would have been charged and tried, just like many other law enforcement officers who have been tried for manslaughter over the decades. Thing is, many of them are acquitted by a jury or have their charges dropped because, shockingly enough, evidence is presented that wasn’t captured on a bystanders’ cell phone video.

    Many of the people doing the looting in Minneapolis are young. They’ve been cooped up for months without school or work, and they’ve been told they couldn’t even shake hands with their friends for fear of spreading disease. Many of us will remember what it’s like to be young, full of energy and anger, and caught up in occasional collective frenzies that felt, at the time, like they were accomplishing something.

    Yes, I remember being young, frustrated, and angry. No, I don’t remember ever having the desire to trash my community and ruin innocent lives like an overgrown, petulant toddler.

  5. The more I read, reflect on, and learn about race relations in America, the more I understand the complicity of progressives in the utter destruction of many black communities. Between the welfare restrictions of the 60’s and 70’s that removed black fathers from their homes and children and the multi-generation coddling of black youths in school, ensuring a literacy rate approaching 50%, the whole progressive experiment has been a disaster.

    On my better days, I assume a well intentioned but bungling bureaucracy is to blame. On most days I just think the intention all along was to keep blacks fatherless, illiterate, and dependent on the Democratic party. I’m beginning to see who the real racists were all along.

  6. This is an excellent article. As the author argues, rioting is profoundly self-destructive: “violent protests and rioting empower right-wing political forces, provide an opportunity for gangs to enrich themselves and exploit destabilized local populations, impoverish property owners, and harm long-term economic fortunes.” I live in a city in Minnesota about an hour south of the Twin Cities. About 300 activists were protesting here yesterday, and they were well within their rights to do so as long as they remained non-violent. Unfortunately, a large group of them made their way to the local Target and started throwing rocks at the front doors. The police showed up in time to prevent them from breaking in and looting the store. In their defense, a handful of the non-violent protesters tried to stop the mob from vandalizing the store – but why in the world were they there in the first place? Because the Target in Minneapolis limited how much milk protesters could buy and the Target Corporation has given money to the city police department? That’s absolutely absurd.

    Protests are always in danger of erupting into violence unless the protesters are well-trained and disciplined. MLK knew this; he continually reinforced the need to meet brutality with non-violent courage. This is a high bar to clear, but protesters who lack that fortitude (and anyone who encourages or defends them) are engaging in the worst kind of virtue signaling. If they actually want to create meaningful change instead of just expressing rage they need to build coalitions, not alienate potential allies. Almost all Americans agree that police officers shouldn’t kill unarmed civilians who don’t pose a threat; those who do should clearly be punished. It’s a travesty when bad cops get away with unjustified killings, but riots are not the solution. Nor is demonizing all police or calling for the “abolition” of the criminal justice system! The relationship between police departments and low-income communities can be repaired, but mob violence is most definitely not the way.

  7. This is a 4th glass of wine @chiefupstart PSA. I just wanna thank @quillette and all the commenters here for providing a good space to discuss topics as sensitive as this in a measured and educated way. Thank you!!!

  8. Exactly! And that’s all most people have wanted forever. Black liberals like to make a big fuss out of giving their sons the “police talk” like it’s some rite passage or something. Well, guess what - I got the same talk from my father when I was 20-something. It went like this…

    “Don’t fuck with someone who has a gun on his belt and a state sanction to shoot your punk ass.”

  9. I understand your sentiment and it may be justified. But, I’ve had cops fuck with me before. One confiscated a baseball bat out of my trunk while I was parked at a Safeway because he thought I was going to use it to cause mayhem later on. Whatever, I bought a new bat. Several cops entered my home once while I was sleeping and confiscated my drivers license. Then later asked me to produce ID when they woke me up. Look, my experience is, when you’re 20 something and on “the wrong side of the tracks” you get fucked with. No big deal…suck it up and move on with your life knowing you won’t be here forever. I knew the deal…most crimes were committed by people of my demographic and the cops were just scoping out the landscape. Honestly, I don’t think it matters if the cop has “legitimate reason”, because, as I noted in a previous comments, you never know if they’re checking you out in relation to another crime. This is where trust comes in. But when you have 3 generations of people who have been told the cops hate them and want them dead, this produces the riots you’re seeing tonight.

  10. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch these rioters self-righteously set out to destroy businesses and institutions over what appears to be a much more complex interaction than is being promoted by the media. The reduction to “they kill POC’s just for the color of their skin” is simply absurd. It only makes sense if you consider the PTSD these officers must have from dealing with criminals who…look like George Floyd. (How does the woman whose house allegedly Floyd broke into, and held her up at knifepoint feel, when she sees a face like his?) Of course Floyd did not deserve to die, and the knee on the neck looks horrible in that video, and hearing Floyd’s pleading certainly pulls the heartstrings, but you can also hear in Chauvin’s tone that he’s heard this kind of pleading before, and it also appears that he’s heard it from Floyd before…how DID Floyd wind up on the ground? Why hold him down in that manner – well I want to hear why. The assumption that this “white” cop is pure evil is just as absurd. These things LOOK BAD. Arrests look BAD. I saw a cop in NYC beating a white guy resisting arrest with a baton. It LOOKED bad. Cops are not all bad. They are not all nice. But there are two sides to this story and I want to know both sides before running out into the street and destroying the 88th precinct and a few police vans.

    Privy to black community boards, another phenomenon is troubling. How racist they are. How quick to pursue the very mob justice that fomented lynching. While one must work to retain a distance from what people say online, if what I am reading there is any indication of the status quo in this “community” I have lost all respect. See Charles Blow’s redundant, anti-white racism in the NY TIMES. No media would publish such infuriating racist crap if it came from whites.

    No, Junior, white men are not running around hunting down black men. Black men hunt down black men. Let’s talk about that. For every black man abused by a white police officer, there are fifty dead black men hunted down by another black man.

    How we get to worshipping criminals, and burning down efforts to control them in the name of justice is testimony to the idiocy of the herd mentality. I’ve got to walk past posters of Michael Brown in some supernatural glow like Jesus. It’s pathetic.

  11. “All in all, the evidence suggests that violent protests and rioting empower right-wing political forces, “

    Uh Duh!!!

    When angry people are trying to destroy your home, business, and community evidence suggests some people get righteously pissed off.

    During the Freddie Gray riots In Baltimore the police were disrespected royally so guess what happened, many cops left the city for better paying and safer jobs in the surrounding counties. This resulted in a police shortage in the city that lingers today. Which resulted in higher crime in the city, which has resulted in the tax base moving out, which resulted in the city having to beg everyone from the Governor to the Feds else to bail them out.

    But you know what hasn’t happened yet?


    Nothing has changed. All the angry folks are still angry, it’s still the Cops fault but now it’s because they aren’t there to enforce the laws, because it’s simply too damned dangerous to do the job without some support from the community. The kids run the streets like in some dystopian sci fi movie. And the liberal press has left and moved on to greener pastures like Minneapolis.

    Somehow it’s everyone else’s fault. Always.

  12. There are several million cops in the United States .The fact that a few of them may be bad guys is not surprising. No one and I mean NO ONE supports the murder of Floyd. But a far better example of police behavior, ignored by the press, is the tremendous restraint shown by thousands of police in large cities as they were being pelted with water bottles, glass jars, bricks, and in a few cases, Molotov cocktails. Multiple cops have been injured. Thank God none were killed when a women threw a Molotov cocktail at a cruiser filled with four cops, I found it somewhat amusing when CNN reporters were commenting about being scared, because, there were no cops around in Minneapolis.

    What exactly is your alternative Ted? Be nice to killers I know that this is a hard concept for you to understand. But there are bad people out there. Some of them are African American, Mostly, they victimize other African Americans. CNN didn’t cover the story of one gang-banger killing a rival gang-banger’s nine-year-old son, just for the heck of it here in Houston. Al Sharpton didn’t show up. The ONLY people who cared were the cops.

    Multiple police departments have gone to community policing and other policies to build rapport with the neighborhoods they work in. This has had various results. Bad guys are still bad guys. Gangs still terrorize neighborhoods. What should the police do? Leave as they did in Minneapolis and let a mob burn down their station?

    You answer is to tell police to wait until they are shot. Seriously? Would you? You ever been shot or shot at? Do police not have a right to go home to their families like you do? Is it your contention that police are inferior disposable drones that exist solely to ensure YOUR safety? That sure seems easy to say when you sit safe and sound in your house, living your privileged existence …protected by the police.

    That has to be the most disgusting contemptible thing I have read on this forum.

  13. The author mentions mass incarceration. I think it’s high time people start looking at the roots of mass incarceration, and what causes the crime- rather than sticking with the notion that the War on Drugs has been in any way responsible for mass incarceration. It is related, but only to the extent that the urban crime phenomena caused by an unregulated market is a breeding ground for violent crime. Central to this issue is the fact that a high proportion of fathers in community seem to act as social immunisers against grooming efforts by gang elders, and there is a great deal of disparity between communities in relation to active fathering.

    This graphic provides detailed information on the total prison population in the US by offence.

    It should be noted that a significant portion of the tiny proportion of people locked up for drug possession are drug dealers who have pled down to lesser offences.

    Ironically, the case of George Floyd represents the extreme end of a troubling tendency within US Law Enforcement. Because, in Roland Fryer’s landmark research into police shootings, he discovered whilst an unarmed white man in a critically provocative situation was twice as likely to be shot by police as an unarmed black man, black suspects were significantly more likely to be pepper sprayed, thrown to the ground and handcuffed. For police routinely operating in difficult neighbourhoods, it might well be that a form of institutional transference occurs, causing the necessities of dealing with the dregs in some communities to rub off onto innocent members of the community.

    There is also the issue that, regardless of race, what happened to George Floyd might have been a ‘humble’- a practice used by police in dealing with non-compliant individuals who resist attempts at arrests, or other police action. In the light of the tragic death of George Floyd, it might be well beyond time to review this practice, or at least acknowledge the fact that such practices will always exist, regardless of academy training. Perhaps a less dangerous substitute could be found. By all accounts, pressure applied with a knee or a foot to the gastrocnemius (the muscle at the back of the bottom half of the leg) can be extremely painful, and causes no damage beyond bruising. This might be a better way to coerce compliance.

  14. Back in the late 60s I was applying for a job which required submitting to a lie detector test. The questions all concerned whether I had used drugs or not. I’ve never trusted those machines since, because I did get the job.

  15. Here are my two cents: I am certain that 3rd degree murder and manslaughter was the only fair outcome for Chauvin. As there were four police officers on the scene, it is clear from the footage that the officers had control of the situation and of Floyd. Once Floyd had been subdued and even prior to calling out in pain, it would have been easy for two officers (Chauvin and Thao) to put cuffs on Floyd and to sit him inside the back of their patrol car. Unfortunately this did not happen, and the man is dead (RIP). Unfortunately nothing can bring him back. But at the very least justice was served swiftly. How Chauvin could have allowed this to happen is unconscionable but silver lining is that he will never be able to do this ever again.

    But it would appear that the combination of identity politics and tribal warfare means that every individual now appears to be an avatar for the communities or professions that they hail from, including cops. And particularly given the history of the United States, the race card is almost inevitably immediately played in these sorts of tragic circumstances. But at the same time, the level of critical analysis of the situation is highly deficient, with a reversion to tribal lines: the so-called “Progressives” are politically paralyzed given their ideological position, and tend to moralize and find themselves unable to make nuanced statements. What does a nuanced statement look like? I do not hold all the answers but it could look something like: “the killing of this man was wrong, unwarranted and avoidable, and we are confident that the our legal system will see to it that justice is served. Rest in peace George Floyd. At the same time, we are appealing to all to show restraint and for those minded to do so, to protest peacefully in memory of Floyd. Despite these tragic circumstances, rioting will not be tolerated and criminal activity less so”. But this sort of simple and nuanced behaviour from leaders also appears to be in short supply.

    But is Chauvin the symptom of a wider systematic problem of police brutality, disproportionately and gratuitously aimed at blacks? People like Larry Elder don’t agree that it is. In fact, there is some evidence that the predictable race card reaction means that cops are - on average - more careful when it comes to shooting a dangerous suspect who is black.

    Also, data by Statista, now made famous for providing Covid-19 statistics, also helpfully maintains data of police officer shooting victims in the United States by race. The data shows that nearly twice as many whites are shot dead by police officers. In fact, if you add up the black and hispanic shooting victims, you get close to the level of white victims. It is true that blacks only make up ~13%, compared to ~60% for whites, so proportionally the outcomes look worse for blacks (which on a like-for-like basis should represent ~21% of the level of whites, rather than about 50%). But at the same time, the US Department of Justice data shows that between 1980 and 2008, that African Americans accounted for 52.5% of all homicides compared to 45.3% for whites. Incidentally, 93% of the killings were intra-racial in the black community (compared to 84% for whites). More recent data shows a similar trend. But to put it into perspective, 15,500 homicides in 2019, approximately half of which were black on black, which compares to 235 blacks shot by the police.

    Stating a hypothesis: if one takes homicide as a proxy for serious criminal behaviour per community (and arguably as a hypothetical proxy for the likelihood of a dangerous encounter with the police?), you see that blacks as a whole were significantly more likely to engage in serious crimes: ~6.0x greater than whites per capita (DoJ data suggests 8.0x higher than whites). Blacks also account for gun murder rates of 57%, which presumably might proxy that cops face more danger when attending to crimes in these communities. People seem to forget that 135 officers killed in the line of duty in 2019.

    However, the fact that blacks accounts for a higher share of violent crime (which means more instances of serious crime in absolute numbers), but a smaller proportion of police shootings relative to whites, does not appear to corroborate that blacks are gratuitously and disproportionately targeted. Granted that the past is not necessarily a reflection of the future, but Chauvin does not appear to be symptomatic of something more sinister and certainly appears to be a non-representative avatar for cops in a country with 330 million people, with 800,000 sworn police officers. There are bad apples without a doubt, and Chauvin was one of them.

    As a non-American, I cannot recall the last time that there was an international outcry for a white person having been shot by the police, even though this occurs a nearly twice the rate. I am not suggesting that such outcry is needed, but all I am suggesting is that it simply does not happen in this way.

    Back to the politicians and the state of chaos, you now have political movements like Black Lives Matter to factor into the mix. Although I understand that BLM is trying to highlight the plight of black people specifically (a reversion to identity politics and tribal warfare), though there does not appear to be empirical backing the aims and claims of BLM (at least insofar as shootings by cops goes), particularly when black on black homicide is 31x the greater killer of young men. The combination of the nature of the criminal circumstances behind Floyd’s death, together with the interplay with BLM, has pushed the Progressives to act like deer in the headlights. So while police stations and private businesses burn, BLM - which is a political movement aiming at “social justice” is making it even more difficult for anyone to speak up in a nuanced fashion, particularly for Leftist politicians who I have no doubt are cognizant that 2020 is an election year in the US. The climate appears to be causing widespread paralysis. And this climate and series of events is equally creating an opportunity for the criminal element in society to hide behind BLM to go looting, carry out theft and to cause chaos (and no doubt claiming that they were doing this in the name of George Floyd, in the context of BLM and in the name of social justice). Politicians need to start being nuanced which is the only way to call out the dangerous and illegal / criminal behaviour, while signalling support for Floyd, as this is the only right thing to do.

    Further, people need to get educated on their history. Violent rioting is self-defeating. As said by Pinker in Enlightenment Now,

    The political scientists Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan assembled a dataset of political resistance movements across the world between 1900 and 2006 and discovered that ¾ of nonviolent resistance movements succeeded, compared to only 1/3 of violent ones. Gandhi and King were right, but without data, you would never know it.

    Black lives matter, and more importantly all lives matter. Thankfully justice was served swiftly, so RIP George Floyd. What is also certain is that police forces will need to take a closer look at cops with histories of complaints and brutality, and clear up their forces of such liabilities and ticking timebombs. But at the same time let’s stop the looting, rioting and burning as it’s just not working. Politicians must condemn such behaviour unequivocally as this create the most physical and perceptual damage for the groups involved. And this chaos is playing into the hands of both far left and far right groups.

    But what I am confident in predicting is as follows, in a country with 800,000 police officers who are only human, together with high levels of crime relative to other industrialized nations, George Floyd will sadly not be the last victim. But the politicians need to speak the truth: the riots, violence and looting need to stop. If this continues, this will not only damage the memory of George Floyd and the communities taking part, but before long we will quickly see that the protestors are going to run out of cities to burn and we will be left wondering - among the ashes and rubble - why people did not articulate their thoughts and the truth sooner.

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